Saturday, October 03, 2015

BACFest 2015 Dubuque, IA

Tuesday 9/29/2015

The original plan was to depart OXB Thursday morning around 7 am.  I have been monitoring the wx and patterns each day. This is the look I have today for a Wednesday departure.

Wednesday 9/30/2015

It was an early start to day one with a revised BACFest flight plan. Mary and I dropped of the zoo this morning at OC Pet Spa around 8am. Our baggage was weighed and stowed, our munchies bag with water and Gatorade was loaded along with our new survival kit and plane covers. Ceilings were 300' so we waited until 11am and ceilings 800' to get the fan turning.

My planned tail winds were now headwinds and my proposed three hour leg was looking closer to three hours and thirty minutes. It was a busy flight.  I logged two hours of IMC and felt sharp soon after my initial check in with Patuxent approach. When I launched off runway one four I did feel anxious climbing out, right up until we entered the clag. Once on the instruments it was all business and everything felt natural.
I eventually broke out between layers as I approached CDI.  With a solid layer below I requested the RNAV GPS RWY 4 approach. Approach turned me direct YISUG and after a good chuckle about who thinks these names up I complied.  Approach followed up with a request for me to confirm that I can fly the approach at 4000 for radar coverage. Not a problem, the next step down was 7.2 miles and 2700'.  I finally broke out at 1500' adding in flaps and making a position call on final.  I made a squeaker of a landing and taxied clear to look for fuel.
It was a nice break to stretch the legs and to take on fuel. With 50 gallons on board we saddled up for KVPZ, Valparaiso, IN. This flight was planned for 2 hours 20 minutes, taking advantage of the tailwinds. We launched off runway 4 and climbed back into the clag. I checked in with approach and was directed to climb to our enroute altitude of 6000. After the initial climb out we road along in the clear, above the layer, until north west of Fort Wayne Indiana.  Fort Wayne gave me a block altitude so we could keep our nose out of the scattered build ups. I was having fun, Mary, not so much. 
Approach cleared us for the visual approach and I cancelled about ten miles out when I had the field in view.  I crossed midfield and entered the left down wind for runway three-six.  A smooth landing to end the days flying was fine by me.  We taxied to the FBO and ordered fuel for tomorrow and asked to have 08Romeo tucked in a hangar for the evening.
The FBO provided a courtesy car for our overnight stay, that was really nice of them. We found a room at the Country Inn and suites, our first time at this chain. The hotel was clean and the service excellent. We asked for a recommendation on a place to eat, the desk provided two. One was in town, Stacks, the other located near the airport, Kelsey's. We couldn't find a place to park in town, all on street, so we headed back towards the airport for Kelseys.  A great choice, this steak house and seafood place was excellent, Mary and I each ordered the filet mignon with a twice baked potato, it was all perfect!
After we finished dinner we headed back to the hotel to settle in for the night. I flight planned for tomorrow's hop into Dubuque and we shared a dessert we ordered to go. A perfect ending for our busy flying day.

Thursday 10/1/2015


Well, that was the plan, once I turned 08R to follow the 180* assignment from south bend approach I was advised report ready to copy a route amendment.  08R ready to copy, I was given MAPPS then direct, great, that will speed things up especially with the 35 knot tailwinds. I was then handed off to Chicago center and once again given the advise ready to copy.  The next change was direct MEDAN then MEITZ direct KDBQ.
Center wanted to give a little space for the Bravo I guess. I made the changes then enjoyed the view. It was a smooth fast flight all the way to Dubuque. I descended, pilots discretion, from six to three thousand which ducked us under the layer. We broke out in time to enjoy the view of the Mississippi River as we made our way to the airport. I was number two to land and entered a right base for RWY 36.  Not my best landing but I was on the ground and ready to enjoy BACFest.
South view
North view
We headed to the hotel and checked in along with our 75 lbs of luggage. Mary headed out to get her nails done and I found a comfy recliner chair in the lobby to people watch and get my blog entries caught up. Maybe an hour after settling in, the BACFest van pulled up and I decided to head back to the jet center for the meet and greet.  Mary was done with her nails so the van picked her up on the way. Good timing.
Members were making plans and grabbing dogs and munchies at the meet and greet.  Mary and I had a light breakfast around 8:30 in Valparaiso and nothing since so we decided on the wildfire restaurant in the neighboring casino across from our hotel.

Dinner was excellent, perfectly done filets and great service.  We somehow waddled our way back to the hotel,thankfully it was a block or two walk.

Friday 10/2/2015

Six years ago today Mary and I signed the papers and sealed the deal to purchase 08Romeo. How fitting that we are gathered with the Beech Aero Club and so many baby beech aircraft.
A full day of activities are listed on the itinerary. The group is flying out to IA23, Guttenberg,IA. I took a pass since I haven't landed on grass and I wanted to get my prop balanced.

I met with Doug the owner of Harmony Aviation and inquired if there were any time slots available for an add on to his schedule. Doug was just waiting on an 83 Sundowner owned by Brad and Ann M, of the Beech club. I was able to get in line for the next appointment and had the FBO tug 08R out of the hangar.

The Balance Process

Simply stated; two sensors attached to the engine provide data to a prop balancing computer during three brief engine run-ups to 2000-2200rpm. After each engine run-up, the computer prescribes an increasingly accurate corrective weight amount and location to balance the entire rotating group. The weights (AN washers) are temporarily located under one or more spinner screws or bolted directly to the ring gear on some Lycoming engines. After the prop generated vibration level is reduced to near zero (usually after the third engine run-up) the spinner is removed and weights are permanently installed in accordance with F.A.A. approved specifications.
After warm up I held the RPMs to 2100 as instructed.  Doug was plugging away at his controller and in a few minutes gave me the cut sign.  I shut down and held up my key to confirm so he could approach.  With the door cracked open I heard him say you're done. I thought we had three cycles to do? Not you, he said, 08Romeo is near perfect. He said I could zero it out by adding metal washers to three screws in a specific location on the spinner, replacing the plastic ones that are in use.

I was happy to have the prop done and even more excited that it was in great shape.  I now have a new sticker for my prop log and comfort knowing I'm not wasting power with sideloads and an out of balance prop. The tach check was also good with 2100 rpm indicated and 2119 confirmed on Doug's machine.
The first of two wagons to transport the members to the maintenance clinic

The maintenance clinic started at 2pm and we had a great turn out. Today's topic was stabilator trim actuator lubrication.  Plenty of hands on with parts along with  hints and tips to get this job done. Another great clinic by Beech Aero Club.

We all headed back to the hotel to get ready for this evening's Mississippi River boat dinner  cruise.  Mary was feeling better and just about ready when I got back to our room.  I showered and got dressed with time to spare.  We headed out early to enjoy the beautiful river walk. It was a short stroll to the Port of Dubuque and our boat.
We got underway enjoying the camaraderie of fellow members and the perfect wx on the water.  We had great seats facing west and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. Dinner was very good with selections of chicken and or ham along with sides of potatoes, slaw and green beans with bacon.  The dinner cruise ran from 6pm until 9pm. It  was a nice walk back to the hotel in the cool evening air to end day two.

Saturday 10/3/2015

Another early start and a long walk across the hotel for our club breakfast. Mary is not feeling well so I brought her back breakfast. Breakfast in bed always helps.

Instead of taking the bus to the shopping trip to Galena, IL., Mary will sleep and I will attend the members lunch. Following the lunch I'll attend the membership meeting. After the meetings are complete there will be down time until our banquet starts at 7pm.

Somewhere in all this we had to pack up our room and move to a new room. The hotel only had three nights in a king room so today it's two double beds.

Phase II of our adventure begins tomorrow with a plan to stop in Minnesota then on to South Dakota. Stay tuned!!


Chris said...

I always love taking flying trips into unexplored territory. Glad to hear your flight is not only going well, but that you're getting some IFR exercise, too. Those photos taken between layers are gorgeous. I think the one of the best parts about flying IFR is the ability to get yourself into VFR places (like between layers) where you couldn't get to without filing. Happy travels, Gary!

Jim and Sandie said...

Hope Mary felt up for the banquet. So not fun to not feel good when you're traveling. It really is a neat experience for you to be able to share knowledge and stories and good times with other pilots. Sort of like our RV seminars. Amazing how much you can learn each time you go. And you have a balanced prop which I think would be a very good thing. LOL Sure hope the weather out this way clears up for your trip to SD. We have had terrible winds and rain the last couple of days here in southern ND so I assume SD has been about the same. Be safe.

Anonymous said...

Its great sharing in the adventure with you and Mary. Been following on Flightaware, and hoping you would update with an entry. Safe flying, and looking forward to reading more. Charlie. N57

Jeff said...

Nice job Gary! Glad to see you making up for lost time in your plane. I bet it feels good. Looking forward to the stories of your trip. It sounds like VPZ worked out well!

D.B. said...

Dubuque is a nice little place. That's where I've stayed overnight in order to get an early arrival into Oshkosh.

Gary said...

Thanks everyone for reading along. We just got home today, nine days away with the airplane, we're tired.

Chris - Plenty of IMC, almost six hours. Plenty of new states and airports. Fun times!

Sandie - Mary made all the major events. She didn't make the shopping trip...but I did get to go to the maintenance clinic instead. Same thing as the RV groups or car groups, just planes. The wx was much better once turning for home.

Charlie - Man, we really need to catch up, its been ay to long. When I tuned OXB after canceling IFR I heard the boys at New Garden...good memories and I knew I was back in my sand box on familiar territory.

Jeff - It felt great getting back in the plane. Nothing beats actual to get you back on the A game.

DB - Dubuque is a nice town, the people were very friendly. Airport staff was excellent. Not to many places the tower works so closely with the FBO.

Steve said...

I actually ended up in Dubuque for work about 4 years ago - agree it's a neat little old river town. You had a nice owners clinic there. Thanks for the write-up on the prop balancing, too - I never quite knew what that entailed before.